Friday, March 12, 2010

Racial Differences in Hospice Utilization Among Heart Failure Patients

The March 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that among patients with advanced heart failure, blacks and Hispanics are less likely to enroll in hospice care. Researchers from the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife and Boston University School of Medicine adjusted for sociodemographic, clinical, and geographic factors and found that blacks were 41% less likely to use hospice care than whites, and Hispanics were 51% less likely.

Researchers looked at 98,258 beneficiaries who were not enrolled in 2000, and whether or not they entered hospice in 2001.

From the Ivanhoe Newswire:
Concerning experts is the fact that blacks develop heart failure at a significantly higher rate than Hispanics and whites, mostly because of their increased rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. A recent study revealed young and middle-aged blacks suffer heart failure 20 times more than white individuals in the same age group.

"Our findings document significant racial differences in hospice use and show that overall increases in the availability of hospice services in the 1990s have not erased racial differences in hospice utilization," Jane L. Givens, M.D., M.S.C.E., lead author and a scientist at the Institute for Aging Research in Boston, was quoted as saying.

Earlier studies show cultural belief and values play an important role in hospice use, but Dr. Givens says hospice care must be culturally sensitive to work.
Read the Cardiology Today and MedPage Today reports of this study.

HFA's 2009 initiative focused on Diversity and End-of-Life Care, and also included this special report on African Americans and End-of-Life Care. The report offers explanations as to why hospice, historically, has not been a choice for many African Americans, looks at grief and the African American community, and suggests ways to reach out to African Americans who are making end-of-life decisions.